If you had asked most people back in the 2004-2005 television season which new medical drama they expected to make it 200 episodes, odds are they would have mistakenly picked FOX’s House. Tonight, Grey’s Anatomy will confound expectations and air its 200th episode.
And you know what? It’s earned it.
In its first three seasons, Grey’s' compelling storylines about doctors juggling their personal and work lives made it one of the best dramas on television. While there was an admitted foray a little too deep into cuckoo-town in the following middle years, the two-part sixth season finale changed everything, working as a quasi-reset button for its characters and story. Grey’s Anatomy’s seventh season was a welcomed return to form, and the show has continued to improve in both quality and ratings. In its ninth season, Grey’s Anatomy was the top drama in the highly competitive 18-49 demo.
Before the 200th episode airs tonight, check out our list of the most memorable moments from Grey’s Anatomy’s first 199 episodes.
1. “Pick me. Choose me. Love Me.”
Probably one of the most famous moments from Grey’s Anatomy’s run. When Derek’s (Patrick Dempsey) wife Addison (Kate Walsh) shows up at the hospital, he is left with a huge decision: getting back together with his wife Addison or staying with Meredith (Ellen Pompeo). In this heartfelt plea, Meredith expresses her love to Derek and begs him to choose her because she loves him in a “hold a radio over my head outside your window, unfortunate way that makes me hate you love you.” Grey’s Anatomy is one of the few shows that could make what could be, on face value, a vomit-inducing monologue not only tolerable, but also moving.
2. Hospital Shooting
In this heart wrenching two-part season finale, Gary Clark (Michael O’Neill), a grieving widower, returns to the hospital with a gun to take out his revenge on the doctors he believes are responsible for his wife’s death. While the two hours were filled with many moving character moments, the most anxiety filled moment was Cristina (Sandra Oh) performing emergency surgery on Derek as a gunman holds a gun to her head telling to let Derek die on the table. In a desperate attempt to save Derek’s life, Meredith tells Gary Clark to shoot her. “Death and All His Friends” and “Sanctuary” worked on reminded viewers why they fell in love with Grey’s Anatomy in its first three seasons and set the show’s remarkable seventh season.
3. Meredith and the Bomb
The second season of Grey's set the bar high for crazy medical cases. A WWII re-enactor is brought into the hospital when a homemade bazooka backfires and leaves an unexploded grenade in his abdomen. A paramedic’s hand (Christina Ricci) is the only thing keeping the shell in place and stopping it from exploding. The situation got even even crazier when Meredith sticks her hand inside the patient’s abdomen to hold the bomb after the paramedic has a nervous breakdown and runs away.
4. Plane Crash
“Seattle Grace Mercy West” is hands down the unluckiest hospital in the world. Its surgeons have had to deal with bombs, flooding and a shooter rampaging through the hospital. Just when you thought Seattle Grace Mercy West’s luck was changing, six of its doctors are in plane crash. The plane crash claimed the lives of Mark Sloan (Eric Dane) and Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh), and left Arizona with one leg.
5. Burke leaves Cristina
Who knows what would have happened had Isaiah Washington not been fired at the end of the third season. At least one good thing came from his departure: this amazing scene in which Cristina returns to their apartment in her wedding dress to find that Burke has left her. In a moment of realization she says, “I’m free” and has an incredibly moving breakdown, acted perfectly by Oh.
6. Ghost Sex
In 2009, Grey’s wasn’t the only medical drama to tackle the questionable storyline of a doctor dealing with hallucinations—the other was House. While House may have handled the storyline more effectively, Grey’s Anatomy’s attempt was far more memorable. Dr. Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl) starts hallucinating her dead boyfriend/patient Denny. The whole story takes a weird turn when she starts having sex with him and tells Cristina that she’s having “the best sex of her life.” (She conveniently leaves out the “with a dead guy” part.) No matter how frustrating this storyline was it only made Grey’s all the more endearing for its commitment to ridiculousness, and it also led to the next item on the list.
7. Post-It Note Wedding
Derek and Meredith’s relationship has been anything but normal. That’s why it came as no surprise that their first wedding adhered to that trend. At the end of the fifth season, they were supposed to get married, but decided to give their planned wedding to Alex (Justin Chambers) and a dying Izzie. The plan was to instead get married at City Hall, but couldn’t find time to make it there decide to get married in the residents’ locker room instead—by writing their vows on a post-it note. This post-it note marriage would prove to be stronger than many of the real marriages on the show.
8. Adele’s Death
Adele’s (Loretta Devine) death played in a typical Grey’s fashion: a happy moment—in this case Dr. Bailey’s (Chandra Wilson) wedding—is ruined by something terrible. Bailey arrives to her wedding late because she is called into the hospital to perform surgery on Dr. Webber’s wife Adele. Adele makes it out of surgery, but has a heart attack shortly after. The most poignant moment comes when Richard starts crying after imagining he and Adele dancing to “My Funny Valentine.”
9. Racist Patient
Leave it to the most diverse cast on television to tackle racism in an extremely memorable way. Dr. Bailey is called to the ER to treat a paramedic who was injured when two ambulances crashed into each other outside the hospital. The paramedic, however, demands to be treated by a white doctor because he’s afraid the Swastika tattoo on his stomach would cause a black doctor to not give him the best care. However, Dr. Bailey “rises above” and proceeds to continue to treat him at great personal expense—the surgery forces her to stand her already frustrated husband up for lunch. Dr. Bailey ended the day by asking that no one ever call her “The Nazi” again.
10. Heart Surgery in the Elevator
Doctors George O’Malley (T.R. Knight) and Alex Karev are stuck in an elevator with a critical patient when the hospital suffers a power outage. The patient’s condition starts to worsen and requires immediate surgery. Alex freaks out and thus George must perform heart surgery in an elevator.
11. Musical Episode
In its seventh season, the powers-that-be decided that Grey’s Anatomy should do a musical episode. This decision made sense since music has always been a big part of the show (check out the titles of episode). Although the episode was tonally uneven (i.e. “Running on Sunshine” musical number), the episode put Eric Dane, Sara Ramirez and Jessica Capshaw through their acting paces and had some amazing moments (Sara Ramirez performing “The Story”). Amid all of the chaos surrounding Callie and her baby, Rhimes and company found the time to allude to the show’s baby years through the inclusion of the old theme song “Cosy in the Rocket,” bringing Kate Walsh back as Dr. Addison Montgomery and having Dr. Burke play an important, although not physical, role in saving Callie’s life.